By Nancy Dashwood
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY Natives of this area may remember Scott Barrett as a member of the Howard Lake-Waverly (HLW) High School Class of 1988. They probably also know his parents, Jack and Vonnie Barrett, and remember his younger sister, Jody.
What they might not know, however, is how Barrett’s positive attitude has helped him build a business, and beat one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
Following high school graduation, Barrett attended Willmar Tech for two years, and graduated with an electronics engineering degree.
He then attended University of Wisconsin-Stout, and graduated with an electrical engineering degree with a minor in math and computer science.
He began his career as a senior software engineer, contracting for different companies, before founding his own business in 2003.
Barrett’s International Billiards Association
Barrett developed his business, the International Billiards Association, from one of his passions playing pool. IBA was created to manage and sanction pool leagues. Barrett’s business was a hit, and membership has continued to grow each year.
The International Billiards Association’s mission, according to its social media pages, is “to offer the best pool/billiards rating system in the country to other pool players around the world.”
The IBA uses a trademarked rating system known as TruSpot. TruSpot was developed on the principle that pool players are more accurately handicapped in a “race-to-points” format, where every ball matters in every game.
The IBA’s website indicates a current membership exceeding 30,000 individuals. The IBA’s league summer season began May 30, and the fall season starts in September.
The worst day
Aug, 14, 2017, Barrett’s world came to a screeching halt, when he was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatoblastoma a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which had spread to his liver.
“I was in complete shock,” Barrett remembered, “but immediately went into ‘what is the next step mode?’ and never looked back.”
Barrett indicated that his form of pancreatic cancer was only the second case his doctors at the Mayo Clinic had ever seen.
Barrett began to fight. His first round of 72-hour, inpatient chemotherapy was administered in October 2017.
Barrett ended up with a blood infection that took another five days of hospitalization to clear.
Round two of chemo took place at the beginning of November 2017, and his third occurred over Thanksgiving that year.
Following further testing, Barrett received an eight-hour surgery, known as the Whipple procedure, during which lesions from his liver and a tumor in his pancreas were removed Jan. 15.
Barrett said he battled through the medical procedures with a lot of grit . . . and a lot of help.
“I kept a realistic and positive attitude,” he said, “and I had all the support from friends, and family, and my faith.”
A really good day
Barrett said his surgeons declared him cancer free the day after his surgery.
“The doctors told me the next day when they came to visit me,” Barrett recalled. “I was shocked, because I wasn’t expecting that diagnosis for like, two to five years out.”
The road back to health
Barrett spent 12 days in the hospital recovering, and continues to make progress each day.
“It’s been a slow process, but it’s going well,” he said. “I have had a hard time managing my expectations with getting better. I wanted to be better today, not tomorrow, so I could do the things that I normally do, but it doesn’t quite work that way.”
Barrett said he knows it will happen with time. “It takes time to heal, especially after a major surgery like the Whipple procedure,” he said. “I’m back to about 95 percent now. I still have some soreness and such, but for the most part, I am back to doing the things I love to do.”
Friends begin GoFundMe page, and host June 2 fundraiser
Barrett has never fought alone. A poster for his upcoming benefit pictures him during treatment with his sister and his parents.
The benefit itself, which takes place tomorrow, June 2, has been organized by friends.
Those wishing to attend the benefit may join Barrett and friends at CR’s Sports Bar, in Coon Rapids at 5 p.m.
The event will feature a $10 all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, as well as a silent auction. The event is designed to help raise funds to go towards Barrett’s medical bills and his recovery time.
Those unable to make the benefit tomorrow may still help Barrett by donating funds at his GoFundMe page.
Although some doctors or facilities see pancreatic cancer as a death sentence, Barrett refused to consider that. He encourages other people newly diagnosed with cancer not to accept that, either.
“Get a second opinion from an institution like the Mayo Clinic, who deal with pancreatic cases daily,” Barrett said. “One of my doctors along the way told me to stay positive because there is life after cancer, and that stuck with me.”
Barrett’s future plans do not include cancer. They do include playing pool. “My pool game is really inconsistent right now,” he said. “It’s starting to get better, but I have a bunch more practice to do before I go to Vegas in July to play in nationals.”
How to help
The spaghetti supper and silent auction take place tomorrow, Saturday, June 2 at 5 p.m., at CR’s Sports Bar, 8525 Cottonwood St. NW, in Coon Rapids.
Barrett’s GoFundMe page is on the web at: GoFundMe.com/benefit-for-Scott-Barrett.